The National Lottery Community Fund reflects on the last 18 months and the future

15 Oct 2021 Jocelyn Horton    Last updated: 15 Oct 2021

Northern Ireland Director Kate Beggs shares her reflections on the last 18 months as well as their plans to continue to support communities over the next year. 

The pandemic has affected and changed us all. When we think back on last year, we remember the uncertainty, but also how our communities pulled together to look out and care for each other. We are proud to have been there to offer support to projects and communities who stepped up to support those most affected by COVID-19.

What did you do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

We took a flexible approach, reducing turnaround times for assessments and prioritising applications that were directly providing support to communities.

Our main programmes – National Lottery Awards for All, People and Communities and Empowering Young People helped organisations react quickly to support their communities. Our funding team spoke to existing grant holders and offered uplifts so our funded projects could quickly adapt to the ever-changing needs within their communities.

We also worked in partnership with the Department for Communities to get emergency funding out to groups who were at risk of closure due to the effects of the pandemic.  The Covid-19 Charities Fund launched on 15th June 2020 and supported nearly £9m to 500 organisations all in urgent need of immediate financial support as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

After responding to the pandemic, what did/does 2021 hold for you?

In January 2021, we launched the much anticipated Dormant Accounts Fund in Northern Ireland.  We worked in partnership with the Department for Finance to ensure a programme was developed to support the sustainability and resilience and build capacity in the Voluntary and Community sector in Northern Ireland. There has been a high level of interest in this fund and to date £5.5m has been awarded to support 58 organisations. We are currently gathering insight and learning from the applications received to date and taking stock of the information gathered.  We will be chatting to key stakeholders over the next few months with a view to extending the support we can offer to the sector through Dormant Accounts Fund NI.

In November 2021, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The UK Government’s Together for Our Planet initiative has been created to engage people with COP26 and inspire positive climate action. In line with this and our environmental strategy at The National Lottery Community Fund, our Together for Our Planet funding programme launched on 1st September. This UK wide programme provides National Lottery funding to support communities to take action on climate change. We recently held a virtual session for customers in Northern Ireland who might be interested in applying to this pot of funding.

In line with this theme, we are also excited to be working in partnership with the Department for Instructure on a new environmentally focused small grants programme called Living Places and Spaces.  This programme will launch on 1st November and will offer grants of between £1,000 to £10,000 to community led projects to create more sustainable and resilient outdoor spaces. 

And for the future?

In order to provide a level of certainty and stability for the people and organisations, we are postponing the launch of our next portfolio of funding, which we had originally planned for the end of 2021. Over the next year we will be reviewing and refreshing our current funding programmes and planning for our portfolio post-2022. Our main funding programmes will remain open until the end of 2022. We will continue to talk to and listen to the sector so we can be sure that National Lottery funding reaches the people and places where it is needed the most.

As always, we welcome conversations with potential applicants at any stage of project development.  Groups can contact us by calling 028 9055 1455 or by emailing us at [email protected]

The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.'s picture
by Jocelyn Horton

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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